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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 500 of the 2011 revised and enlarged edition of Thomas Sowell’s 2009 book Intellectuals and Society (original emphasis; endnotes deleted; link added):

Freedom has likewise been redefined to mean things remote from what most people have long meant by freedom – namely, exemption from other people’s restrictions. Through verbal virtuosity, that is now called “freedom from” but not “freedom to.” For example, a well-known book by two Yale professors declared that “we shall try to unravel some of the complexities in the theory and practice of freedom” and redefined freedom as “the absence of obstacles to the realisation of desires.” Thus freedom “depends upon attaining important prime goals such as dignity, respect, love, affection, solidarity, friendship. To the extent that individuals lack these, they cannot be free.” As if this confusion of freedom with other things was not sufficient, they added that “security and freedom are much the same thing.”….

Through such verbal virtuosity, those who promote a dirigiste agenda can claim not to be reducing people’s freedom, but enhancing it, by having government provide things they could not afford otherwise. Thus such intellectuals need not debate critics who say that a dirigiste world reduces people’s freedom, but can evade such debates with verbal sleight of hand, by redefining freedom.

DBx: Words have meanings and they matter. Redefining things as that which those things are not commonly understood to be is, at best, confusing; sometimes it’s calamitous.

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